- Carter Strickland, Reporter, HornsNation
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AUSTIN, Texas -- The one-time, small-time coach is back in the big time.
Jim Larranaga, who last made a significant NCAA tournament run at George Mason in 2006, has led the second-seeded Miami Hurricanes to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2000 with a 63 -59 win over No. 7 Illinois at the Frank Erwin Center Sunday.
Overview: In a game that went back and forth throughout the second half, Miami found just enough offense from Shane Larkin to pull away late. With Miami down one, Larkin hit a step-back 3-pointer to put the Hurricanes ahead for good with one minute left.
Turning Point: Illinois had the chance to go up by two inside of two minutes and possibly put some pressure on Miami but Tracy Abrams missed the second of two free throws, allowing the Hurricanes some measure of comfort as they went down the floor for what was the game-winning shot.
Key Player: Larkin not only hit the big shot at the end of the game but proved his value as a point guard all night. The sophomore was consistently able to penetrate, draw and dish to his teammates. And when the Illini didn't cut off the lane Larkin was comfortable finding his shot among taller players. He finished with 17 points and five assists.
Key Stat: The Illini were able to hang in the game because they kept the Hurricanes off the offensive glass. In fact it was Illinois that thrived, getting 19 second-chance points to Miami's eight. Nnanna Egwu led the way with 12 boards for Illinois.
Next Up: Miami will play No. 3 Marquette in the Sweet 16 in Washington, D.C., on Friday.